A vanlife gathering in Todos Santos

That morning it was time to saw goodbye to our travel companions and begin a push to get south. We had had a fantastic time travelling with these guys, and hope to meet them again on the road before they cross over to the mainland.

Aimee too wasn’t keen to leave, jumping up into their engine bay and refusing to come out.

We had a couple of days to make it to Todos Santos, 6 hours away. Our goal for the day was to get to El Conejo beach as it was one of the only sights to camp on the way down south that wasn’t right on the main road. We stopped off around halfway through this 4 hr section in the town of Ciuda Constitucion to swap drivers and pick up a few bits and bobs. It was another beautifully sunny and roasting hot day, which I wouldn’t have chosen to spend driving, but there really doesn’t appear to be all that much to do in the section of Baja. In order to get to El Conejo beach, there is a long and bumpy dirt road. It took us around 40 minutes to drive the 20km section to the coast, but once there we had a nice spot that was by the sea and sheltered from the wind. The beach itself is a vast expanse of sand that stretches as far as the eye can see. We were unsure of whether or not we would have to pay, having read mixed reviews on the iOverlander, either way it wasn’t expensive and the only other options would have been some form of dirt track just off the highway. This a great spot in many ways, far enough from the waves as to not be too loud or too windy and also secluded enough that I could actually use our outside shower properly! This was good as although they actually had there own shower on this campsite, I didn’t fancy it. An interesting contraption, the main issue is that it was surrounded by several hundred bees drinking the water. Somehow, this didn’t appeal..

Friday had arrived, and that morning we set off on the final leg of our journey towards Todos Santos. After the rather lengthy exit from the beach, we completed the last two hour section of the drive and arrived on Playa Tortuga early in the afternoon. The camp was clearly visible with a row of vans parked up on the beach, including John and Ina in their bus from a few nights ago.

Apparently, there was plans to move camp down to La Pastora that night, as the beach was better for swimming down there. We wanted to stay and watch the turtles first though, which are released nearly on a daily basis throughout January and February. At around 5.30pm, the turtle hatchling of that day are brought onto the beach where you can go and look at them up close before they are released.

It seems like these strong waves would crush these tiny things.

Sunset is around 6.20pm and at this point they are carried down to the shore in their respective buckets. One of the kids who is in charge of the event, draws a line in the sand and asks everyone to keep behind the line. He explains that if there are too many footprints, the turtles have a hard time getting to the sea as they keep falling in the holes. As ever there is one over excitable tourist, who can’t quite wrap their head around these basic instructions but nevertheless soon it’s time to release the babies. The turtles are tipped out onto the sand, a few metres from the sea where they begin the slow process of crawling towards the thunderous waves that are crashing just below.

It seems crazy that these tiny little creatures will stand up to the waves, but sure enough, one by one they disappear off into the sea. Some have more luck that others, getting caught up in a wave and pulled into the ocean, while others get quite the opposite. After a long hard crawl, the wave sweeps them back up the beach to where they started, often upside down. We were reassured however that they all get to the sea, I think the ones that don’t get there under their own steam get rounded up and chucked in the sea anyway once darkness has truly fallen.

We decided to move back around to the new camp site where they majority of people had already gone. Not far down the road we turned off to another track, and ended up camped in a large circle of vans. A fire already burned in the pit and as we got out of the van we were welcomed by Abigail, who had already been parked up here for some time with her wife, and had been the ones that suggested that the we all move down to this beach. The first night in somewhere like this is always a blur to me, so many new faces with new names that I could never hope to keep track off. The one thing that I do really like about meeting other travelling people in their vans is that the small talk is different. When you meet a regular person who doesn’t live in their van, they are always so surprised at what you are doing and ask the same questions over and over again. Meeting vanlifers is different, we already all know the basics and so we don’t have to do go through it all again. People are more interested in everyone else’s set ups and places you’ve been rather than the fact that you are actually living in your van.

Over the next two days we got to know the people around us better, while we enjoyed some brilliant sunshine on the beach. Lee decided to cycle to the shop for some beers, while I declined due to the ineffectiveness of road tyres on sand. He was gone a while, and I pottered around the van until I heard the cry of, “Shut your windows! Bee swarm!” go up around the camp. The air was indeed full of bees, but seemed to clear fairly quickly. I then noticed everyone was gathered around our orange camping chair, still out by the fire pit. Going over to see what the fuss was about, it appeared the bees had found a new home and were trying to nest on the chair. Two of the guys removed the chair from the campsite, and we hoped that soon the bees would realise this wasn’t a great spot and we could reclaim our seat. I wasn’t too optimistic though, when the following morning they were still there.

Saturday night featured a vegan meal, prepared by the occupants of the two campers who had invited us to park up with them. As much as it sounded good, we didn’t join in. This was partially because our water tanks rank out that morning and we had to drive to the next town down to get water, meaning that we weren’t back until early evening. It was also due to the cost, while not a bad price for a what was offered, it was still money we couldn’t really justify spending when our fridge was full.

Sunday was blazing hot, and we spent the day relaxing around the van and watching various people go to and from the water to try the surf. We caught up with some blogging, interspersed with brief spells in the sun, being careful not to cook ourselves. An hour or so before sunset we decided to walk down the beach to see the baby turtles again. After a pretty lazy day, walking a couple of miles on the beach was definitely an effort. The sand was incredibly soft, making it a pretty hot activity. Still, we were lucky to not only see some pretty huge waves, but also the whales playing in them very close to shore.

It shows just how steeply shelving this beach is as to the how close these gigantic creatures got without beaching themselves. We walked around 2 miles or so down the beach, which is beautiful in itself.

Arriving there just before the sunset, we sat and waited on the beach. This time, surrounded by crowds of English tourists which was a little odd.

This round of turtles seemed a bit stronger, and we watched again as they desperately paddled for the sea. This little baby struggles to get back up as the waves rolled it over.

While these two spent ages crawling towards the sea, only to get washed right back up onto my feet after a particularly big wave.

Not stopping quite as long as we didn’t want to walk back in the pitch dark (there are some dead pufferfish on this beach that you don’t want to stand on), we were glad we had taken the time to come and see them once more.

That evening, the music came out as did the drinks. I got reacquainted with Poi, which was pretty fun and something I haven’t done in a long time. We were just about ready to call it a night when some Mexicans parked up behind our van circle and were soon invited in to join us. I soon realised that out of our entire group, we had the least amount of Spanish. They were nevertheless a friendly bunch, sharing their beers with us and their drugs with everyone else! We finally made some pretty good Pina Coladas out of the coconut cream we had been carrying around for a while, and while we drank them we watched in astonishment as one of the locals picked a red hot ember out of the fire with his bare hands to casually light his cigarette.

Their car parked up in the middle of our camping circle and blasted out mariachi music until the early hours of the morning. It wasn’t an early night on Saturday, the previous day, and we were pretty ready to have an early night. However, one of the problems with a pop top roof is definitely sound insulation, so we figured it was better to join in than attempt sleep. In the end, it was gone 3am before the fire had died down and we headed to bed.

Monday morning saw most of us with plans to move on. Some had already left the previous day, and most of the remaining party started packing away that morning, including us. We had heard that there was a beach a short drive down the road called Los Cerritos, which is supposed to be good for surfing. I had been surfing a few times as a kid and never really mastered the art, while Lee had never been. This seemed like a rare opportunity for us to give it a go for free, as a few people had offered to lend us board and there was no need for wetsuits this far south. Before heading this way, we decided to check out the town of Todos Santos Dropping of our laundry on the way in, we had a few hours to kill, to start with we had some food at the vegan deli next door.

Heading into the town, we parked up and had a wander around. It’s a small, but pretty town and features this hotel, apparently the actual “Hotel California”, as well as a lot of touristy shops and restaurants.

After a good wander and buying ourselves some touristy things, we headed for the next important stop, the local brewery.

Having tried somone elses at the weekend, I was straight onto the ‘Ginga Ninja” their alcoholic ginger beer. Lee went for a blonde and incredibly strong beer, before we headed outside to sit in the sun and enjoy our drinks.

Flight Menu

We hadn’t been here to long, before a bunch of people from our camp descended on the bar. Soon enough, it was decided that tacos were needed and we headed back into the town in search. We found a place that did 3 tacos and a beer for 90mpx (£3.60) and settled down. Lee went off to pick up our washing in case the place closed. By the time he had got to the laundrette (which is not in the town centre), located the owner, got her to get our washing as they were now shut, driven back and parked, you might imagine the food was cold. In actual fact, we were all still waiting. On the verge of walking out an hour and a half later, we finally got our tacos. I’m not sure they were quite worth the wait, but they were definitely good and for that price I can’t complain too much.

It was now getting late, and we still needed somewhere to stay. We had been told that there was a nice spot to camp at between here and the next beach. The only problem was that it wasn’t on iOverlander and they only directions we had were ‘turn right at the 85km marker’. We were nominated to go first as it was reckoned we had better lighting, and we made our way in a convoy of three, out of the town. Soon enough we saw the marker and right next to it, a dirt track. We pulled of the main road with John and Ina in the shuttlebus behind us and Danny following in his Sprinter. Down the road a short way we stopped at a gate of sorts across the road. There was a sign saying ‘Private Property’ and a bunch of dummy padlocks on the gate and we debated whether to go any further. John and Ina had been told there was a good spot here, but no one had mentioned a gate before. On the other hand, we have driven to several ‘gated’ camping spots including ones that claim to be on private property, with no issues. Also, in Mexico, basically all the beaches are public land, so, we decided to keep going. It wasn’t too long before we hit a dead end road and parked up for the night. Shortly joined by Rachel and Ola, we squished ourselves into this small parking lot and called it a night, most of us still recovering from a weekend of partying.

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